GolfNow Is Golf FREE!!!!

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For several years GolfNow has been touting the Barter a tee time per day in exchange for FREE service.  In the past few months, they have upped the ante to two or more tee times per day and get a FREE POS system from Fore! Reservations (GolfNow purchased Fore! Reservations earlier this year).

pressingsuitsIt used to be that the “barter” times were mixed in with your other available tee times.  The barter time is easy to pick out as it is priced very low and has a “hot deal” icon.  Also on the same page are typically offers from courses nearby.  So you are now competing with every course in the area as well as GolfNow selling their barter “Hot Deals”.  While this has infuriated many owners, others say that the additional exposure is worth it and does bring them new business –either way, at least your non-barter times here listed and you had a shot at selling them.

Well – GolfNow just upped their game.  They have very cleverly rolled out LastMinuteGolfer.com with accompanying iPhone and Android apps.  Now all (and only) the barter times are in one convenient place for the golfer and you (the owner) no longer even have a seat at the table – you may have just bartered yourself out of business!  How FREE is that website and POS System now?  As Ross Perot (presidential candidate back in 1992) once so eloquently stated…  “That Giant Sucking Sound Going South…” is your business being devoured by that group in Orlando.

5¢ per hole including cart?  If you are lucky enough to be in Seattle, WA you can play for $.99 per round including cart – 5¢ per hole.  Of course, the Peanuts characters would love this… “Everything should be 5¢”.

This is the first in a series of 4 articles on this topic.  My next three articles will give you some tools and tips to combat this force but if you are thinking of switching to Fore!  (I’m sure they are asking)… understand how much FREE will cost you.  If you are a current Fore! user, follow along as we show you an alternative to bartering your way to bankruptcy.

     Below is a sampling of actual advertised tee times in major markets for October 30, 2013.  Appropriate that this is around Halloween as it certainly is frightening.  Feel free to visit www.lastminutegolfer.com and enter your zip code to see what you are competing with daily (or maybe I should say who you are NOT competing with – since you can’t compete with these prices).

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Golf Now Is Golf Free

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Golf Now Is Golf Free

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Golf Now Is Golf Free

 

 

And how about this beauty:

$0.00 Including Cart for up to 4 players! Of course, if you don’t get that deal, there are plenty available at $3.00 per player with a cart as a backup.

Then again, you could always start pressing suits for a living…

 

 

 

 

Rick and Tom Robshaw
Club Prophet Systems Inc.

Want to Grow Your Golf Operation’s Bottom-Line 7 to 15%? Click Here Now.

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40 Comments

  1. Golf now have just taken over BRS which is the main booking system in the UK and i went to a seminar where they try to get you to give them a barter time every day in exchange for the support fee etc. Only when you look further in to it do you realize that a special offer button would appear on your booking screen exactly where you are trying to sell times and you have no say in what they charge for these barter times. They told us that these barter times don’t cost our clubs anything but i’m damn sure customers would rather wait a couple of hours if they could get a tee time for 10% of your green fee. What’s worse is there were clubs there calling this deal a ‘no brainer’ and clubs would be crazy to turn it down!

  2. Jeremy Sturgess on

    Alan. You got it right in one. Its a disaster waiting to happen. You are better off just sticking with the paid model.

  3. I complained to them just about this very thing. I got sucked in..and seem to be stuck by the contract with no out for two years. Any suggestions?

  4. FREE COMPUTERS was the claim of Greens.com and Book4Golf (Both were Online tee time providers–not discount providers) back in the late 90’s. Both did NOT have the technology to make a tee time but they had the $$$ to offer Free computers to golf shops who used them to play solitaire. Both tried to buy other technology but only for their client lists and then ditched the technology because theirs (which did not work) was better….Millions of dollars later…many competitors folded, Book4 and Greens disappeared and many in the golf industry are still playing solitaire

    • Glenn,

      You are one of the few to remember the past greens.com fiasco. As they say.. Those that do not remember the past are doomed to repeat it.. Or something like that.

  5. Jason Meininger on

    I worked for greens.com and got screwed. Crappy business model and left all the employees hanging for unpaid expenses. These are the same people running GolfNow

  6. Dave Wilkerson on

    I’ve been saying that for years. Instead of the golf course working smarter most went the “easy” route and gave away their profit while driving their tee time prices lower.

    I call this Rape and Pillage.

    • Golf Operator Magazine on

      It’s the easy route to Oblivion… The problem is not pre say Golf Now it’s that the pros, owners and manager’s think Golf Now is going to save them. They accept their crappy websites, pathetic emails, and complete lack of real marketing knowledge with gay abandon…!

  7. Seven Bridges Golf Club on

    I agree Dave Wilkerson, this is precisely what is wrong with the golf industry today. Golf course managers, owners and operators these days are too quick to buy into the “you’re doomed if you don’t get on board with us” mentality and sacrifice all of their greens fee pricing integrity; but at what cost? Now you need to sell twice the amount of tee times to get back to where you would be if you just kept your greens fees as they were! In my opinion, if your course provides great playing conditions, outstanding customer service and basic food and beverage amenities, you should be able to maintain your pricing structure, and not have to discount them heavily or “barter” to compete with lesser golf facilities in your area.

  8. Rumor is those with existing accounts with FORE! will not see a change in their pricing structure. Sort of like those with existing health benefits won’t see a change with ObamaCare…..ummm, i’m not buying it on either front. We’re a FORE facility and i’ve already started the process of investigating other options. Club Prophet will be getting a call from me so at least i’ll be ready when it changes, not if, when. Another facility in the MN section recently asked GolfNow about the POS and was told no cash price, only 2 times a day with carts. My guess is it will eventually be cost prohibitive to pay cash for it, that’s when we leave and get another system. I like the FORE! system, and it’s always been a great bang for your buck. It’s too bad Harry couldn’t hold out. But hey can’t blame him, i’m sure the payday was quite nice.

  9. No matter what industry you’re in…when times get tough the leeches come out. I did the math on deals like this. If everyone else did the same it would blow their minds and this company and those like it out of the water.

  10. Andrew…If they read your books, heard your seminars, they could really increase their loyalty if in addition to giving away this tee time for $0.00 they would also get their email address for future $0.00 deals, gave them a logo hat and a bounce back coupon for $0.00 good for any Saturday or Sunday at prime time

  11. Golf Now kicks ass IF you work it daily, weekly, we have increased our rounds and revenue with them year after year, those who try and complain really do not know how to use it. GM Mount Airy Casino

    • Chris, You are one of the few who are actually utilizing it as an extension of your marketing instead of strictly saying “All my tee times are on Golf Now and I have a free website so let the money roll in.” Golf Now shouldn’t be the only thing you are doing to promote your course, it should just be an additional way you can promote. If someone doesn’t “work it” and just expects good things to happen from using that tool they are going to be extremely disappointed.

  12. Great article ….It’s been nice to see more and more coverage nationwide about the perils of these large third party barter based discounters…..fortunately many more folks are realizing this, albeit slower than would be best….One important thing lacking in many well written articles like this one that drive home the problems with barter for resale, is that there are company(s) out there going about it a better way, for the good of the industry- GOLF PIPELINE does just that, promoting rack rate golf with a socially based booking engine..Plenty of momentum gathering nationwide, and in Fla…Until owners and operators standby and support new models, and a company like Golf Pipeline gets tons of courses, it will just be negative chatter, but nothing more….Looking forward to more great articles like this, and also acknowledging not only the problems with the barter/discounters, but ALSO acknowledging who is doing it right!

  13. Jim Glendinning on

    I read your recent article re;GolfNow and how the entire operation seems to be is devaluing daily fee golf courses.I attended a meeting last spring with three other local Panhandle golf courses.The subject turned to marketing and GolfNow was brought up and jaws dropped when I said “we aren’t on GolfNow”.We do work with Golf18network but they also assist as our web and email host.It took several months of watching the Golf18netork Special pricing vs our pricing to get Golf18 to narrow the difference between our rack rates and their Specials”It is a negotiable # if you persist.After many disscussions with them I finally seem to convince them by pointing out the obvious,”Y’all are Leaving money on the Table!!Its bad enough having to compete with other courses but when you begin competing with a vendor that YOU are paying through trade out it starts to get rediculous.
    I truly think that too many operators do not monitor the daily specials of these third party vendors.I predict a revolt as course operators get more savey when it comes to Search engine,internet,iphone etc. marketing.Thanks for the article, its going to be a long battle because as we all know,it’s easy to lower prices but hard to raise them once lowered.Kind Regards,Jim Glendinning

    Jim Glendinning
    Golf and Club Operations Mngr.
    Sunny Hills Golf Club

  14. John R. Cameron, Jr. PGA on

    We got out of Golfnow a few months ago. They are a cancer in our industry. I am actively trying to convince other courses in Daytona Beach to do the same.

    John R. Cameron, Jr. PGA
    Director of Golf
    Daytona Beach Golf Club

  15. If you are currently utilizing an online barter system – I encourage you to spend the time to do a simple study of what was actually booked in a tee time that you may NOT have already sold on your own. You will find you gave away far more in barter $$$ than you received as a true benefit. It takes less than 2 hours to determine what is REAL and what you being cleverly SOLD. Booted GN to the curb 2 years ago and encourage all to analyze the “perceived benefit”.

  16. As the FOUNDER of LastMinuteGolfer, this hurts me to see what has happened with our model and (most recently) with our brand. As the course managers in GA and elsewhere will tell you, our (old 2005) model focused on rewarding golfers for paying MORE instead of just making it easy for them to pay less. We forced golfers that grabbed a last minute (course owned) deal to pay non-refundable in advance and we sent checks to courses each month. Things have now changed, and not for the better.

    We published a flyer (“Stop Bad Discounts”) back in 2006 and did our best to distribute that to the course managers to try to stop the downward discount spiral.

    We used ONE (typically crappy- just before twilight) tee time/ day as a reward to golfers that spent a lot on course owned tee times… the more $ golfers spent (on course owned times), the more they earned and the better deal they could get on a crappy time just before twilight. We NEVER promoted barter times in email blasts, except to say “book tee times and earn yards that you can redeem towards free golf (right before twilight)”.

    I believe that there IS such a thing as good barter when executed as above, and I believe there are plenty of ways to put UPWARD pressure on rates (ADD VALUE eg – “book a tee time and get dinner for two from our restaurant partner XYZ”), however the direction I see this headed is not healthy.

    I hope that GC will bring back many of the programs and aspects of our model that we used to have. I get calls from course managers all the time singing the blues, and I’d love to find a way to help course managers.

    As a start, my new company has created a free way for managers to automatically handle all of their requests from charitable organizations- http://www.OneSpareTeeTime.com I’d love to get your feedback.. happy to report so far so good and course managers loving it so far.

    I can be reached at mike@geronimo.com

    Mike Last

  17. I like your article on golf now and others… what the courses don’t understand is how they have immediately cheapened the value of their product that has expenses that are NOT shrinking. We need to do what it has taken the hotel industry 2 decades to do, hold the line on pricing. They regret going down this road years ago.

    Tom Brooks
    Mountain Golf & Utility Cars

  18. Carrie Graeff Ramoz on

    There are options besides Golf Now… if we all move away from them then that solves these issues. My club uses Quick18 and it’s been wonderful – no bartered tee times, no devaluation.

  19. Michael Sullivan on

    You lost my “like” earlier this year with a Tiger Woods Comment, but after this article, I’m back on! great article. Shared it on my page and made my own little rant. I will no longer watch the Golf channel, period. I’m sure they will miss me, lol

  20. I’ve been in the golf industry for 26 years and I’ve seen a lot of crazy stuff, but nothing compares to what has happened over the last 3-4 years. What companies such as this have quickly created is “whoring” out of the golfing community. What made this sport great was the fact that people were loyal to their home course. They spent money there whether it be in the bar, the restaurant, or the proshop. They felt at home and it was a community of “golfers” coming together with pride in “their” club.

    Fast forward to today and their is more community. When I see someone on the course who used to play 5 days a week and ask them why I’ve only seen them once, their answer is always the same, “club x had a deal the last few days so I wanted to save some money…”

    It’s a lose lose situation for all involved…

    Chris Kipp
    Golf Course Superintendent
    Grassy Hill CC
    Orange, CT

  21. I call it the lemming principle. Everyone thinks they have to follow the” lead lemming”. If you understand the law of demand drives an over saturated supply market – too many golf courses and a stagnant number of rounds leads to price competition. Then you let the vulture sell your tee times at no cost to them. All the golf courses (lemmings !!!) FOLLOW EACH OTHER OFF THE CLIFF TO THEIR DEATH.

  22. GolfNow would sell or barter time for as little as $12 with our rack rate at $69. I had golfers bragging to our members that they were playing this course for less than the member pays for a cart fee. Said goodbye to GolfNow over a year ago….for good!

  23. I’ve been in the golf industry for 26 years and I’ve seen a lot of crazy stuff, but nothing compares to what has happened over the last 3-4 years. What companies such as this have quickly created is “whoring” out of the golfing community. What made this sport great was the fact that people were loyal to their home course. They spent money there whether it be in the bar, the restaurant, or the proshop. They felt at home and it was a community of “golfers” coming together with pride in “their” club.
    Fast forward to today and their is more community. When I see someone on the course who used to play 5 days a week and ask them why I’ve only seen them once, their answer is always the same, “club x had a deal the last few days so I wanted to save some money…”
    It’s a lose lose situation for all involved…

    Chris Kipp
    Golf Course Superintendent
    Grassy Hill CC
    Orange, CT

  24. GolfNow is the single worst thing happening in the golf industry, and the worst part is, golf courses are buying into it. Look, it’s very simple…most facilities get sold on “free advertising”, “selling your unused tee times”, “1000+ affiliate websites”, etc. Problem is, the only “advertising” they are doing is pushing their hot deal times (ie, the times that the golf course sees no $$ from). That daily email they send out…yup, all hot deal times. I about threw up when I saw the Morning Drive guys promoting hot deal times on the air!

    Now I’ve heard all the rebuttals from our GolfNow rep…”we’re getting the golfers to your course, it’s your job to make them your customer” is a favorite of mine. How on earth can I expect someone who has just paid $18 on GolfNow to come back and pay $45 through me!? Not gonna happen! Now, we see a lot of the same people booking the hot deal time. But the way I look at it, every time someone new books that time at my facility, GolfNow just took another customer away from me, cause that person is only going to book a hot deal time from now on. These people aren’t my customers…they’re GolfNow’s customers.

    In addition, how many of these people ever spend a dollar in the golf shop? Sleeve of balls?…only if they lost all of theirs on the front 9. Drinks before/during/after the round?…they probably smuggled their own in their bags. Shirt/hat?…HA! Bottom line is these people booked a cheap time so they could play for next to nothing. At my facility, I’d say 1 in 10 buy something, and that’s usually a $5 bucket of balls or a $2 drink.

    Now lets talk about the d*uche who calls in…

    Caller: “Hey, I saw an $18 green fee on GolfNow, but now it’s gone. Will you honor that price?”
    Me: “No sir/ma’am…that’s the only time tee time at that rate.”
    Caller: “Oh, ok…I’ll just book it for tomorrow I guess”

    …so not only do I seem like the @ss who won’t offer the guy a cheap rate, he’s going to not play my course today (I assume he wants to play today) and come tomorrow instead because he won’t pay the regular rate.

    For those facilities who offer memberships…have any of your members ever done the math and wondered why they are paying annual dues when they can book hot deal times? A few of mine have. Our annual membership dues are very reasonable, but I have had 3 different members (each of whom plays between 1-2x week) show me the figures, and let me tell you, it’s tough to argue with the math. One of these people did not renew their membership and now plays on hot deal times once or twice a week.

    Bottom line is this…GolfNow is not helping most golf courses, it is hurting. GolfNow cheapens the product in the mind of the patron, takes your customers and makes them GolfNow’s customers, and the effect is snowballing. In our area, I am finally starting to see courses figure it out and leave GolfNow (we just made the decision to quit GolfNow). We will be the third course in the area to leave in the last year or so. But I look around other parts of the country and it seems like more courses are added all the time. GolfNow has become Goliath, and it’s time all the David’s get smart and bring it down.

    • As a follow-up to my previous message…I have now discovered that 6 courses in the Panhandle of Florida between Pensacola and Panama City have dumped GolfNow in the last year. In 3 weeks, we will make #7.

  25. Hi Rick,

    Great article, it seems with GN’s acquisition of BRS in Ireland this cancer is going to spread here too. I just looked at the site now and they are offering lots of tee times at decent courses here with average 70% discount from Rack.

  26. Chris Zelenka on

    We have generated over $90,000 in Golf Now sales last season.
    Its up to you “when” you want to discount your rate.
    Trade time is ONE tee time, TWO if you let them build you a website, etc, YOU pick the tee time; EX; 7:00 am and 2:50 pm

    Anyone not using GN and holding on to get their RACK rate will need to hang on for a long ride.
    Its up to you when and how much you discount.
    This is pure BS made to look Golf Now look bad.
    35 years a A-1 PGA Professional
    Thanks
    Chris Zelenka, Mount Airy Golf Club

    • Jeff Bryant on

      Of the $90,000. in golfnow sales, how many of those rounds would you have sold anyway? Run a report and do the math, you will find they are not selling many rounds on M-Th.

  27. Former GNow Employee on

    After carefully reviewing all comments above, I’m glad to see these necessary conversations taking place regarding online tee time distribution with GolfNow. As someone responsible for this growing debate, I can tell you why this has become a problem. First, GolfNow was never intended to be this big. By having Golf Channel mass market “secret deals,” it no longer is a secret-is it? Now, everyone can get a deal and that defeats the purpose of creating a small, but viral growing enterprise. But kudos to Comcast for seizing an opportunity to exploit an industry for millions in profit…over $200M a year now. Second, golf course owners/operators are woefully under trained to perform good yield management practices regarding new technology platforms. Most rely on preset pricing “loads” and automated discount models. Giving regular discounts away at “Peak Times” is not a good strategy. So, turn off those automated schedules! Last, the ideology of “good trumping evil” business practices left with the last few remaining original employees of Cypress Golf Solutions (the original company operating GolfNow and all licensees). All that remain are those that seek to capitalize on an industry struggling to seek and regain a new identity. Operating costs increase while tee time rates (thanks to GolfNow) decrease. It’s a flawed strategy to hope that GolfNow is your partner in this struggle. Big business is not a friend to small business and for all those that believe GolfNow is helping you, I suggest changing course quickly to avoid the rocky reef ahead. Yes, GolfNow is “successful” in their own duplicity, but why buy into that just because you see their commercials and it’s popular? Parachute pants (think Michael Jackson) were popular once too! Do your clients and golf consumers a favor-bring back value. Add a drink or something attached without lowering tee time fees. Feel good about charging for a product you know is valuable. Put up a sign that reads “We here at ____ Golf Course believe in the value of our conditions, service and overall experience offered today. Therefore, we respect our employees, and patrons like you, too much to lessen that with any discounts.”

  28. When was the last time you saw an MBA working the desk at a private club. Why do we hire golf pros to manage businesses? Heck since when is a golf course anything but a business transitioning from one owner to another. Sell memberships, do damage control and get off your ass and go to the first tee and check for personal coolers. Or just get pissed off and know the one truth, rich people play golf become members can subsidize what is clearly a businness model that contains too much overhead without any predictable income. But hey atleast we can keep out everyone else frombothering us, and then get pissed when they use a discount we think is beneath us to utilize.

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